In the world of access control and security systems, even the smallest components play a significant role. One such unsung hero is the door strike.

In this comprehensive guide, we cover door strikes, from their types and functionality to considerations when purchasing one. Whether you’re a property owner, manager, or simply curious about this technology, read on to discover the ins and outs of door strikes

What is an Electric Door Strike?

Electric Door Strike

An electric door strike is an essential element in modern access control systems. Though often unnoticed, its impact on security and convenience cannot be overstated. Unlike traditional locks, an electric door strike is an electromechanical device that operates in tandem with locking mechanisms to control access. It is mostly installed on exterior doors but can also be used for interior doors as well.

An alternative to a door strike is a Magnetic Lock, that also helps keep doors locked and is a commonly used access control mechanism.

Types of Door Strikes: Fail Safe vs Fail Secure Electric Strike

Door strikes come in two types fail safe or fail secure electric strike, depending on which option is preferred when the power goes out. Keeping in mind the building code requirements and door usage, they can either be fail-safe or fail-secure.


Fail-safe door strikes, as the name suggests, prioritize safety. When power is lost, the door automatically unlocks, ensuring easy exit in emergencies. These strikes are commonly used in areas where rapid evacuation might be necessary, such as stairwells and fire exits.


Fail-secure door strikes, on the other hand, prioritize security. When power is lost, the door remains locked. This type is suitable for areas that require stringent access control, such as server rooms or confidential storage areas.

Assessing your needs and building code and regulations can help decide which door strike to install.

How Does a Door Strike Work?

How Does a Door Strike Work

A door strike’s mechanism is simple yet incredibly effective. A metal plate on the door frame holds the latch from the locking mechanism in place when the door is closed. This prevents the door from being opened without using the doorknob. Turning the knob retracts the latch from the door strike plate, allowing the door to open.

Door strikes can be programmed to work with access control devices so that unauthorized access can be limited. These access control devices include:

  • Keypads
  • Motion Sensors
  • Key fobs and cards

When an authorized personnel enters their key or places their fob/card on the controller, the latch retracts allowing the door to be opened. Door strikes are an integral part of maintaining security and privacy.

Things to Consider When Buying a Door Strike:

Doors and Frames

Choosing the right door strike starts with understanding the type of doors and frames on your property. Factors like whether the doors are exterior or interior, the material of the frame, whether the doors are double or single, and the presence of obstructions can influence your decision.

The sides of the door frame, that run vertically, are called the door jamb. There’s one on each side. The top of the frame is the head, which runs horizontally. Most commercial businesses have aluminum or metal door frames.

For the most part, they are the easiest to retrofit with a door strike. Alternatively, wood frames and frameless glass doors are the most difficult to retrofit.

Local Building Code

Adherence to local building codes is crucial. These codes often specify the type of locking mechanism required for different areas.

For example, doors in emergency escape routes must have fail-safe mechanisms to ensure quick evacuation during power outages. Keeping in mind the door’s purpose will help decide which door strike is appropriate.

For instance, fire exits must have fail-safe doors in case the power goes out to allow occupants to exit quickly.

Other alternatives

While electric door strikes are commonly used, considering alternatives like magnetic locks (maglocks) can be beneficial. Maglocks offer strong holding forces and are suitable for certain applications, such as securing both sides of a door.

How to Decide Between Electric Strikes and Maglocks

Knowing and assessing your options can help decide which solution is best for you. Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide between electric strikes and maglocks based on different factors:

Factor Door Strike Mag lock
Functionality Electromechanical parts to lock the door Electromagnetic locks powered by electricity
Power Fail Modes Fail-safe and fail-secure Fail-safe
Installation Easy to install Complicated, should be installed by an expert contractor
Parts Moving latch susceptible to wear-and-tear. Less reliable No moving parts, so no malfunctioning over time
Costs Are cheaper More expensive

While often overlooked, door strikes are essential components that contribute significantly to our safety and security. From their mechanism to their types, understanding door strikes empowers property owners and managers to make informed decisions about access control. Whether you opt for an electric strike or explore the benefits of maglocks, knowing your usage, the building code and budget can help decide what to get.

Written by : Carlo Di Leo

At the age of 24, with no experience in the security industry or any money in the bank, Carlo quit his job and started Spotter Security from his parent's basement. Founded in 2004, Spotter grew from a single man operation into a multi-million dollar security system integrator that caters to businessess and construction sites across Canada.

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